It’s never too early for an NFL mock draft, and 2022 is no exception. It’s early for a few things. Accurate? No, it will not be. We’re months away from being months away. However, we do have a preliminary feel for team needs before free agency hits. Until that time, mock drafts should be about familiarizing oneself with names and addressing team needs. Oh, and don’t believe everything you hear. There are a few players who would have gone in the top 10 in the 2021 NFL Draft!
Note: Draft order is based on Pro Football Network’s free Mock Draft Simulator with trades, which is current based on the completion of the Week 11 action.
2022 NFL Mock Draft | 1-16
These players are the cream of the crop. I got cheeky here with a few picks, but bear with me.
1) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
This pick is starting to become boring. I want to mix things up, but you’re nuttier than a nun on bath salts if you think I’m taking a quarterback anywhere near the top pick in this draft.
Aside from that, I don’t see many differing options. The tackle situation in Detroit is good, and they have some talent at cornerback. Adding a pass rusher with Kayvon Thibodeaux‘s skill set is a massive addition to a team that will get Romeo Okwara back in 2022 and is already seeing flashes from his brother, Julian.
Additionally, based on last season, Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes like to build in the trenches. A defensive front with young talents like Thibs, Okwara, McNeill, and Onwuzurike is potent.
2) New York Jets: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Derek Stingley Jr.‘s best tape in college came as a rookie. He possesses the ideal build for the position, insane athleticism, and nutty ball skills. The LSU program crumbled faster than a spider underneath my flip flop. I won’t blame a soul for checking out of that dumpster fire.
The Jets are a roster devoid of talent, but they have some core pieces already and a few veterans who, if healthy, can contribute in 2022. If they attack free agency well and hit a few picks in the draft, this team could see a massive turnaround.
That is if they can develop Zach Wilson.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
If Evan Neal were born in the late 1200s, some lord somewhere would have paid Geralt of Rivia a lot of coin to slay him.
For the uninitiated, Geralt is a Witcher from the Netflix show “The Witcher,” and Witchers kill monsters. Did we add 2+2 there alright, class?
Neal is a beast. That is why he goes so high in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. He’s an enormous man that moves as well as any 300-pound tackle, and he has experience on both sides, along with the interior. But he will be a magnificent left tackle at the NFL level. It’s evident by watching the Jaguars they must protect Trevor Lawrence…or risk breaking him.
4) Houston Texans: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
If you squint really hard, you can see a little bit of the Bosa Brothers in the #97 that Aidan Hutchinson wears, even if they went to rival schools.
But Hutchinson is reportedly a much freakier athlete than either Bosa. In August, Bruce Feldman added him to the freak list, and you don’t have to scroll far to find him. If he tests like former teammate Kwity Paye (which is believed to be well within the realm of possibilities), it wouldn’t shock me at all to see him surpass Thibodeaux for the top pick.
5) New York Giants: Kenyon Green, G/OT, Texas A&M
This is where I get a bit cheeky. I’m thinking outside of the box here. With only one pick separating the Giants’ two picks, we set out to pair them perfectly, like a Bordeaux with a medium-rare Tomahawk.
In this instance, Kenyon Green is the Bordeaux. He’s the more refined of the pair. He’s also versatile, as he’s played up and down the offensive line while at College Station. But I was intentional about his G/OT designation. Although I believe he can play tackle at the NFL level, his tape at guard is dominant.
The Giants need help at… checks notes… everywhere on the offensive line. This is where they start.
6) New York Jets: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
It’s been a long time since a bunch of pass rushers came off the board this high. In fact, the 2001 NFL Draft with Richard Seymour, Justin Smith, and Andre Carter was the last time three went in the top seven.
But we’ve not seen a group as well-rounded as the top three in this class. All are bona fide studs, and the Jets should not be upset with the way this turned out. And no, Jets fans, you couldn’t have paired Stingley here with Hutchinson at No. 2. Stingley was headed to Houston in that instance.
George Karlaftis is an incredibly powerful player, but he has more than enough horsepower to win off the edge. Think of him as the 2021 version of A.J. Epenesa. It’s not a 1:1 comp, as none are, but they are stylistically similar.
With Carl Lawson hopefully returning healthy and John Franklin-Myers producing, we’re starting to feel better about this currently pathetic Jets defense.
7) New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, G/OT, North Carolina State
HERE’S THE BEEF! The Tomahawk steak to Green’s Bordeaux. Ikem Ekwonu deserves a seat at the table of top offensive linemen in any 2022 NFL mock draft. I was admittedly hesitant on him over the summer, but his technical refinement has come to roost.
Although I think he’d be hilariously effective as a downhill blocker on the interior, his tackle tape is simply too good to ignore. His power should be especially welcomed on the right side of the offensive line, as Andrew Thomas has improved in Year 2.
This may seem like a Dave Gettleman move to build from the trenches. But it’s what this team needs more than anything, and that dude should follow Jason Garrett at the end of the season.
Giants fans should be able to breathe again.
8) Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
That sound you hear is expletives from every single team drafting behind the Philadelphia Eagles. Team officials threw pens, slammed tables, and called their therapist over this one.
With two more picks upcoming, there is ample time to fill more significant needs later. Kyle Hamilton might be the most gifted player in this class. He is a unicorn on the back end. His range and versatility had struck me since I first laid eyes on him while studying the 2020 NFL Draft class as a freshman.
He was the best player on the field then, and he still is. Think about that for a second. Think of some of the Fighting Irish pros on the defensive side of the ball. Hamilton outshined them all.
And with match-coverage concepts taking over, safety will no longer be some throw-away position in the draft or free agency.
9) Atlanta Falcons: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
The Falcons probably aren’t happy about losing out on the top three pass rushers, but we must be realistic about their options. They could go receiver here, depending on what happens with Calvin Ridley. Heck, they might do it even with a mentally-and-physically-healthy Ridley.
But David Ojabo has been impressive. And on a Falcons team amid a rebuild (with the boot of Tampa Bay firmly on their throat), Atlanta can take a swing at a ridiculously high-upside pass rusher.
Unlike other upside guys, Ojabo is already finishing at the quarterback. He’s produced 10 sacks in 2021 in 11 games. But what’s even more impressive are the 5 forced fumbles. I watched him live at Penn State. This dude can move.
10) Washington Football Team: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
For the sake of transparency, if I had to choose today, Matt Corral would be my QB1 and my pick for Washington. But I don’t have to decide today.
Sam Howell is an unbelievably good stylistic fit should the Football Team want to remain similar offensively to what they are now. Howell is, in some ways, the twin-charged version of Taylor Heinicke.
A “twin charge” is a vehicle that has both a supercharger and a turbocharger attached. Only true psychopaths do this, but the metaphor works in this instance. Heinicke is an athletic gunslinger with grit, but he’s not Michael Vick, and his arm leaves very much to be desired.
Howell at his base might be Heinicke. He’s tough as nails with a shorter build for a QB but sturdier. He might not necessarily be more athletic, but he’s shown that he can run more effectively than most gave him credit for with the Baker Mayfield comps over summer. That’s his turbo. It’s on a low PSI, so it’s not adding much, but there’s a difference. The supercharger is running much higher in Howell. His arm dwarves that of Heinicke’s.
11) Philadelphia Eagles: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
The Eagles have found uber-athleticism with their first two selections. Hamilton is a unicorn, and Andrew Booth Jr. is an athletic and smooth cornerback with good length and tremendous ball skills.
With Darius Slay already in Philadelphia and Steven Nelson on a one-year deal, rounding out the top four defensive backs in Philadelphia was imperative in Round 1.
12) Carolina Panthers: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
I’m still fuming over the decisions made by the Panthers and Broncos in last season’s draft, but in the end, one of them confesses their sin and drafts a QB in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
The Panthers need a long-term answer at the position. Maybe Cam Newton can hold down the position as Matt Corral develops, but it should be clear by now that Sam Darnold is like a “nose goes” champion. He’s not it.
Corral needed not to freak out and have games where he throws more interceptions than Ole Miss fans had beers during the games, and it appears he has done so. He’s what we believe to be the modern mold of an NFL QB. He’s athletic, can run, and has a plus arm. He needs to be molded, but upside is king in quarterbacks in this era.
13) Denver Broncos: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
My good friend at the Mile High Report, A.J. Schulte, hates this pick. And although from a need standpoint it may not be the highest on the list, I honestly just want to see Jordan Davis plugging gaps in front of the dynamic run-defending Broncos linebackers. I mean, we’re talking about a 3-ypc-type unit here.
With the back-end talent they have, forcing third-and-longs seems like a dream. The pictures circulating of Davis compared to other defensive linemen are hilarious enough. And he’s not just a gap-plugger, either. He’s explosive enough to collapse offensive linemen into the feet of their quarterbacks.
Between him and Mike Purcell, there won’t ever be a time where the Broncos would feel inadequate in the middle of their defensive line.
14) Miami Dolphins: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
We’re starting to hear more about Trevor Penning, but it really could just be as simple as this — he started at left tackle at NIU over current Bills right tackle Spencer Brown (who filled in admirably for Daryl Williams).
Penning might not be seen by most this high, but with his frame, power, and athleticism, there is little doubt a good showing in Mobile for the Reese’s Senior Bowl will land him in Round 1.
The Dolphins need to completely revitalize most of their offensive line, which is an unfortunate development considering they’ve spent considerable assets there already. They also cannot compound that inefficiency. Miami has to do this to protect whoever the heck their QB is in 2022.
15) Las Vegas Raiders: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
I’m not sure what will happen to Gus Bradley at season’s end, but he’s still in Las Vegas now, so we pick off his platform. That schematic platform is a whole lot of Cover 3 (amongst other things). Kaiir Elam has the perfect frame for the Seattle-famed Cover 3. Pairing him with Casey Hayward Jr. and Nate Hobbs takes a shaky secondary and makes it quite potent.
Offensive tackle is obviously an issue, but my comfortability with moving any of these left tackles over to the right side just isn’t there. And we know Kolton Miller is entrenched on the left side.
Elam’s length is his main weapon, but like Call of Duty: Warzone, he gets to carry a secondary weapon, a tactical, and a lethal. He also carries speed, fluidity, and instinct. Molding his technique is where he could achieve high levels of success in the NFL.
16) Philadelphia Eagles: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
If it feels like the Eagles consistently draft receivers high, it’s because they have. But like the Dolphins’ propensity to draft linemen high, the Eagles have been equally inept in their ability to properly evaluate the position.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside didn’t pan out as a second-round pick, and it doesn’t look like there are many redeeming qualities on the field regarding 2020 first-round pick Jalen Reagor. Good organizations do not wallow in their failures — they correct them.
That is what Philadelphia is doing here. They get their pick of the litter and use it on Wilson, whose vertical explosion is mythical. But that’s far from all he offers. He also is a contortionist and a far-more-refined route runner than he’s given credit for, mostly because of the other skills in his arsenal.
Philly stacked three playmakers here in Round 1.